Fish Identification: Longhorn Cowfish

Most fish identification articles here have been admittedly focused on Caribbean creature. I'll try to balance it out in the future, starting today with the longhorn cowfish.

Physical description

[Longhorn cowfish][]
Longhorn cowfish can grow up to 20 inches (50 cm) in length. A member of the trunkfish family, they are characterized by their distinctive box-shaped body. In addition, the long, forward protruding "horns" on the front of their body give these fish their name.

Their bodies are yellow and covered with small white spots all over. Their fins are made of translucent rays, and include dorsal, anal, and caudal. They have a unique manner of swimming with their pectoral fins, which gives them the appearance of hovering rather than swimming.

Just like the rest of their family, their scales are fused together into a box-like carapace. This makes them strong, but slow swimmers.

Their goofy appearance makes them popular aquarium pets, despite being poorly-suited to an aquarium environment.

Geography and habitat

Longhorn cowfish live in the Indo-Pacific region. They generally live on coral reefs in depths up to 50 meters (150 feet). They are often found in shallow depths.


Like the rest of the trunkfish family, longhorn cowfish secrete a toxin from their skin that protects them from predators. This toxin is only harmful when ingested, though. However, it is strong enough to kill some sharks, giving this fish practically no natural predators.

Further reading

The Marine Center

Photo by [Drow_male][]

[Longhorn cowfish]: